Last night there was a forum at the Throggs Neck Houses where the seven remaining candidates appeared. Just like the previous forum however the sparks and barbs were part of this forum as candidates hurled accusations at the two leading candidates. This time candidate Marjorie Velazquez was the subject of most of the comments by those who went after Assemblyman Mark Gjonaj at the previous forum.
Candidate Victor Ortiz said that his petition was challenged by Ms. Velazquez, and was angry about it. He said that her husband works for the mayor so how could she represent the district fairly. Velazquez answered by saying that she has been fighting the mayor on some issues that are important to the district. It got to a point that candidate Velazquez answered Mr. Ortiz in the same language he spoke several times that being Spanish.
It got to a point that Ms. Monique Johnson President of the Throggs Neck Houses Tenants Association Said to the candidates that she asked them to stop going after certain candidates and answer the questions that they were not. It got to a point that Ms. Johnson was accused of having a candidate that she favored. the candidates tried to prove why they were the best choice for the council seat, but some fell short. Photos of the forum are below.
The candidates who arrived early either spoke to each other or to the people in the audience.
Above - One candidate hands out voter registration cards,
Below - You can see how the room was filled to capacity, but was less than half of this later as people walked out for one reason or another.
Above - the seven candidate (l-r) John Cerini, John Doyle, Mark Gjonaj, Alex Gomez, Victor Ortiz, Edidio Sementili, and Marjorie Velazquez,
Below - Candidate Doyle gives his opening speech as to why he is the better candidate.
Above - Candidate Mark Gjonaj speaks of his experience in the state assembly.
Below - Candidate Sementili talks of empowering people as he holds a voter registration card.
Above - Candidate Velazquez answers criticism of her by one candidate, and responds also in Spanish.
Below - Ms. Johnson is telling the candidates the reason why people are leaving. That they are attacking certain candidates, not fully answering the questions, and going way over on their allotted time to speak.
My take on this forum was, yes there are several qualified (if not all) candidates to fill the soon to be vacant 13th City Council seat, but several failed to connect with the voters on the issues, and chose to try to get even at other candidates who are in the lead.